Beltane is celebrated on April 30 (May Eve), and is primarily a fire and fertility festival. The name, which means "Bel fire," is derived from the Celtic god Bel, also known as Beli or Balor, whose name simply means "Lord." Beltane is also the time of the May queen, when a young woman was chosen from the village to represent the Earth Goddess and reflect the transformation of maiden to mother. This was also the time of the kindling of the need fire, when all fires in the village were extinguished and then ritually re-lit the following day.
Fertility played an important role in the Beltane celebrations. The principle symbol of this Sabbat was the Maypole, also known as the axis mundi, around which the universe revolved. The pole personified the thrusting masculine force, and the disk at the top depicted the receptive female. There were seven colored ribbons tied to it, which represented the seven colors of the rainbow. Fire and fertility, primarily dominated the rituals at this time.
Beltane is when we actively begin to pursue our goals on the material plane. Now is the time to take action and physically put effort into the goal you began to think about at Yule. Make a crown of flowers to represent your aspirations and to bring down the power of the Goddess to aid you in your work.
Altar decorations: Green altar cloth, green altar candles, vases filled with fresh flowers, small crown of fresh flowers, green pillar candle, wand tied with seven different colored ribbons, chalice covered with green cloth, May wine, and ritual cakes. (To make May wine, add one cup fresh, crushed woodruff leaves to a bottle of semi-sweet white wine, and allow to sit for 30 days. Before serving, garnish with fresh orange and lemon slices.)
Plants and herbs: Almond, belladonna, bluebells, clover, frankincense, marigold, meadowsweet, lily of the valley, rose, rowan, woodruff.
Oil: Mix lily of the valley and rose together for anointing, add a clover or bluebell to the master bottle.
Food: Woodruff wine, fresh strawberries, roasted pork, almond cake, salmon, green beans with almonds, mixed green salad, glazed game hens, oatmeal cakes, quiche.
Symbols: Maypole, the wand, crown of flowers, candles tied with seven different colored ribbons, baskets of fresh flowers tied with colored ribbon, branches of rowan tied with green ribbon, green candle in a cauldron, bonfires.
A Ceremony for Beltane
Light the right altar candle and then the left one, as you say the following:
Blessed be the Lord of light and power, He transforms my soul from this hour.
Blessed be the lady of love and passion, My heart and future she shall fashion.
Cast the circle and call in the Guardians. Face the altar, anoint the forehead with seasonal oil, and speak the following blessing:
I pray, glorious Goddess of the Moon, As I stand between day and night. Your heavenly presences grant me a soon, As darkness gives way to light.
Light the green pillar candle. Pick up the candle and hold it as an offering as you speak the following:
Thou who rises from the raging sea,
Shall now accept thy destiny. Now, great lady of the inner Earth,
To the land of promise come and give birth. So that all the seed, fruit, and grain, Shall in abundance come forth again.
Pick up the crown of flowers, hold it in offering as you invoke the Goddess, then place the crown of flowers on your head. Pick up the wand and invoke the God. Still holding the wand, proceed to each quadrant and ask for blessing. Begin in the East by saying:
I ask for guidance from the realm of the eternal spirit Bless me with inspiration and insight.
I ask for guidance from the realm of the divine spark Bless me with energy and power.
I ask for guidance form the realm of the final atonement Btess me with wisdom and control.
I ask for guidance from the realm of the ultimate creation Bless me with skill and ability.
Place the crown of flowers on the altar. Set the green pillar candle inside the crown and place the wand in front of them. Place your hands over the candle and express your desire, and then chant the following:
Lovely lady of the moon Grant my needs and wishes soon.
Pause and bless the wine and bread through the Rite of Union and the Blessing of the Bread ceremony. Begin your closing segment of the rite by offering this blessing:
Within my heart is devoted feeling Vainly should my lips express. I come before your altar kneeling
And pray this time and place you bless.
Dismiss the Guardians and extinguish the altar candles, beginning with the left:
Blessed shall be this time of enlightenment My seeds have been sown and my labors shall be rewarded.
Blessed shall be the rewards of the spirit
Take up the circle and allow the green pillar candle to burn out. When the candle has burned out, take the crown of flowers to a river or stream. Toss the crown into the water, asking the Goddess to bless your goals and help you manifest your desire.
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